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Phasma Book Review

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“Phasma” is more hit than miss.

It’s no secret that Captain Phasma was a woefully underutilized character in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” but now, with a new comic book series, a reportedly larger role in “The Last Jedi” and a new novel titled “Phasma,” can the character be redeemed? If “Phasma” is any indication, the answer is yes.

Written by author Delilah S. Dawson, “Phasma” sheds light on the titular character’s past all while hinting at the motivations behind her frankly baffling behavior in TFA. The novel begins with a Resistance spy (Vi Moradi) being tortured and held captive by a First Order red trooper leader named Cardinal. Cardinal wants intel on Captain Phasma as he senses something is off about her. Vi then relays a story about Phasma’s time on her harsh homeworld Paranassos which has become a partial primitive post-apocalyptic wasteland of sorts. While we learn about other Parnassians like the young Siv, Phasma’s brother Keldo, Torben, Gosta and Carr, Phasma is primarily the main focus here. We discover that she was part of a warrior tribe known as the Scyre and that she sees an opportunity off the hellish world when she encounters Brendol Hux and a group of stormtroopers looking for their crashed ship. Phasma takes it upon herself to help Hux and so she and some of her tribe embark on a dangerous journey to get off world. As the journey unfolds, it soon becomes apparent that Phasma is not to be trusted and that she will do anything to survive.

As a whole, “Phasma” is a strange, flawed, but ultimately satisfying “Star Wars” book. The novel is at its best when it focuses on character and The First Order. If you are like me and were underwhelmed by the lack of insight into The First Order and the character of Captain Phasma, Delilah S. Dawson rewards fans by offering great insight into both. The character of Phasma finally makes more sense here. You understand why she acts the way she does. You understand that she is a survivalist, opportunistic, and generally ruthless. No one will stand in her way. Of course, there are more character traits than just those depicted here, but I’m not going to spoil everything. As for The First Order, you learn a lot more about how it operates and the roles both Brendol Hux and his son Armitage Hux (who is in TFA) play in it. In terms of new characters, I was very much drawn into Vi and Cardinal. While moments between these two did get a bit repetitious at times, they were compelling characters nonetheless. I hope we get more of them in the near future.

On the downside, there are stretches of “Phasma” that proved to be a bit frustrating. While no doubt pivotal to the character of Phasma, the parts on Parnassos were the weak link of the novel. To me, the story on Parnassos felt more like a combination of “Vikings,” “Dune,” “Mad Max,” and even “The Mummy” and less like “Star Wars.” The journey through the planet also felt far too overlong, tonally all over the place, and in need of some edits. How many times did we need to know how treacherous and violent the planet has become? We get it.

Overall Thoughts: While flawed to be sure, “Phasma” not only succeeds in giving “Star Wars” fans more details about Phasma and The First Order, but it also leaves you hoping for a sequel given its open ended ending. Give it a read.

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September 21, 2017 - Posted by | Book review | , , , ,

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